Surfboard builder finds gold in albizia wood

Surfboard builder finds gold in albizia wood

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow)

They are known for their broad canopies and brittle branches. Albizia trees are a nuisance to some, and something to eradicate for others. But for Gary Young albizia is a choice wood.

"I started looking around at what grew here. Albizia was sort of an abundant resource," he said.

Young turns that abundant resource into surfboards. For years he has used albizia wood and an epoxy laminate to craft a board he claims is as strong as a fiberglass surfboard.

"They weigh the same or less than a fiberglass board. And they have higher durability," he said.

Young is a seasoned surfboard maker. He has built them out of wood since 1976, using koa, bamboo, and now albizia.

"It's the best material I've ever worked with," he said.

Young has made surfboards for Sunny Garcia, and windsurfing boards for Robby Naish. His albizia boards come in all sizes, from boogie to short boards to long boards to standup paddle boards. Seasoned surfers are becoming believers.

"The people that are stoked come back again and again," he said. "There's something about wood in performance when it's juicy serious waves that it's a performance plus."

Besides ride-ability, Young says albizia boards are resilient and can take a beating, to a point.

"Nothing is ding proof because as soon as you say that, somebody will say, 'Oh, yeah?' and hit it with a sledgehammer," he said.

As far as Young knows, he's the only board builder using albizia wood. He lives on the Big Island where albizias have overgrown some areas to the point that trees have to be cut down.

"Here's a resource. Let's try and approach it intelligently and make as many things as we can from it," he said.

If you're wondering about cost, one of Young's albizia surfboards retail for about the same price as a high-value fiberglass board.

You can learn more about his boards at

Copyright 2014 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.